Chapter: Internet & World Wide Web HOW TO PROGRAM - Rich Internet Application Client Technologies - Microsoft ilverlight and Rich Internet Applications

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Platform Overview

Silverlight applications consist of a user interface described in Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) and a code-behind file (or files) containing the program logic.

Platform Overview

 

Silverlight applications consist of a user interface described in Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) and a code-behind file (or files) containing the program logic. XAML (pronounced “zammel”) is Microsoft’s XML vocabulary for describing user in-terfaces and is also used in Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF)—the preferred user-interface technology of the .NET Platform as of version 3.0.

Silverlight currently runs in Internet Explorer 6+ and Firefox 1.5.0.8+ on Windows XP SP2 and Vista, as well as Safari 2.0.4+ and Firefox 1.5.0.8+ on Mac OS X. Support for Windows 2000 and for the Opera browser is planned in a future release.

 

Silverlight 1.0 focuses primarily on media and supports programming only in Java-Script. Its primary purpose is to take advantage of the increasing popularity of web-based video to drive user adoption—it is well known that users are willing to install software to watch video. Microsoft also provides a service called Silverlight Streaming that allows you to distribute video-based Silverlight applications for free.

 

When Silverlight 1.1 is released, computers with Silverlight 1.0 will automatically be upgraded. This could immediately make Silverlight 1.1 a widespread platform for RIA development. Silverlight 1.1’s key benefit is that it adds an implementation of the .NET runtime, allowing developers to create Silverlight applications in .NET languages such as Visual Basic, Visual C#, IronRuby and IronPython. This makes it easy for developers familiar with .NET programming for Windows to create applications that run in a web browser. Two of our 1.1 Alpha Refresh examples borrow their user interfaces and code from examples in our Visual Basic 2005 How to Program, 3/e textbook. This straightfor-ward conversion was made possible by Silverlight 1.1’s .NET runtime and a set of third-party Silverlight user-interface controls (available at  www.netikatech.com) designed to replicate the standard Windows Forms controls. Microsoft plans to implement their own built-in set of controls in a future release of Silverlight 1.1. Version 1.1 also provides a sub-stantial performance improvement over 1.0 because .NET code is compiled by the devel-oper then executed on the client, unlike JavaScript, which is interpreted and executed on the client at runtime. For a detailed feature comparison of 1.0 Release Candidate and 1.1 Alpha Refresh, visit silverlight.net/GetStarted/overview.aspx.

 

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